UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Cardiology

Title: alcohol and heart disease

Posted: 12/23/2007 by Amal Mattu, MD (Updated: 7/10/2020)
Click here to contact Amal Mattu, MD

Here's a pearl for everyone that is "enjoying" the holidays with friends...friends named Jack Daniels, Remy Martin, and Louis XIII, among others.

It's fairly well-known that light-moderate alcohol intake is associated with reductions in cardiovascular death and nonfatal MI and also a reduction in the development of heart failure. In case you've ever wondered exactly what a "drink" is and what "moderate" intake are, here are some definitions:
a. In the U.S., a standard alcohol "drink" is 1.5 oz or a "shot" of 80-proof spirits or liquor, 5 oz of wine, or 12 oz of beer.
b. "Moderate" drinking is no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 per day for men.
c. "Binge" drinking is > 4 drinks on a single occasion for men or > 3 for women within 2 hours.

Although some studies suggest that wine (esp. red) has an advantage over other types of alcohol, other studies (including ones we've reviewed in the cardiology update series) indicate that the type of alcohol doesn't matter. Good news for many of our patients!